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The “Equality Sabbath”: OR Churches Praise Diversity

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 By Chris ThomasContact
January 25, 2008

Portland, OR – Church congregations from around the state are making a special effort this weekend to welcome everyone, no matter how they relate to their sexual orientation or gender. The "Equality Sabbath" was originally planned as a celebration of the state's acknowledgment of the rights of Oregon's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. With the new Domestic Partnership law on hold after a court challenge, Reverend Tara Wilkins of the Community of Welcoming Congregations says it's even more important for people of faith to make a stand.

"The issue over gay and lesbian equal rights and discrimination is not a religious issue. It's an issue about prejudice and bigotry. Religious communities across faith traditions are largely supportive."

Wilkins calls the weekend a "spiritual act of solidarity," and says she's been surprised and pleased by the number of churches that have volunteered to be part of it.

Pastor Kurt Catzmar, of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Medford, says his church supports the domestic partnership law because they're in favor of people making and keeping commitments.

"We have no categories for distinguishing among people - by sexual orientation, or marital status, or political leanings. We would no more single out those things than skin color, or credit score, or blood type, or football fandom."

Catzmar sees the "Equality Sabbath" as a kickoff for his church's ongoing effort to make inclusion an everyday priority.

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